|Making the point about privatisation and appropriation of public money|
Sir Alan Davies, former headteacher of Copland Community School, was stripped of his knighthood today in a belated response to his involvement in a financial scandal. Also today Copland teachers held their 8th strike over redendancies and academisation.
From the Brent branch of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers:
The disgraced former headteacher of Copland Community school in Wembley has been stripped of his knighthood. Alan Davies had been found guilty of false accounting at Southwark Crown Court in October last year. He pleaded guilty, although at the very last minute, to six counts of false accounting, and was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment suspended for two years.
Before the trial proper commenced a deal was proposed by the defence. Keir Starmer, former Head of the Crown Prosecution Service was involved and a deal was struck.Sir Alan agreed to plead guilty to 6 of the eight charges – the six least serious, false accounting – in return for the two most serious - conspiracy to defraud and money laundering - being dropped. Davies was not cleared of the charges of conspiracy and
money laundering as the case regarding these allegations was not heard as part of theplea bargain deal so the charges were dropped.
Hank Roberts, the whistleblower who exposed the bonus payments and other irregularities through a detailed dossier, had led calls for Davies to be stripped of his knighthood following his conviction and had written to the Prime Ministers office asking the Forfeitures Committee to take action. A spokesman for the Cabinet’s Office confirmed that Davies has had his knighthood annulled.
Hank said: “This is brilliant news. At least there is some justice in the world even though getting him to court and getting to this stage has taken a very long time. Every day it seems there is another financial scandal involving our schools. Something is radically wrong and I believe it is connected with the break-up of the state education system and allowing greater controls to individual heads and governing bodies. I know that not just myself but an overwhelming majority of staff, parents and pupils will be glad this action has been taken.”
Davies, who was knighted for his services to education in 2000, was tried alongside Dr Richard Evans, 55, former deputy head, Dr Indravadan Patel, 73, ex-chair of governors, Columbus Udokoro, 62, former school bursar, Michelle McKenzie, 53, ex-HR manager and Martin Day, 58, former-vice chair of governors. As part of the plea bargain agreed the charges against them were dropped.
As reported at the time of the court case, when sentencing Davies, Judge Deborah Taylor said: “Your dishonest behaviour represents a fall from grace. You have failed in your duty as head of the school – in failing to ensure proper, transparent management, and, more importantly, you lied about it and resorted to dishonest fabrication. What sort of message did that send to the children?”
Meanwhile ARK headquarters in Kingsway, Holborn in central London was the target of a protest
by a group of teachers from Copland Community school in Brent protesting about ARK’s proposal to take over their school. They were taking strike action over propose compulsory redundancies that have been totally unnecessary. ARK continues to cut as many of the current staff as possible before September while hiring two new extra assistant headteachers and one deputy headteacher. This is even before any funding agreement has been signed.
Two of the protesters dressed as fat cat spivs and in a lively exchange explained why they, as hedge-fund speculators, (ARK is run by hedge-fund managers) would want to run schools. The answer from the protesters was to make even more “loadsa money” from their state schools take over. Hank Roberts, ATL Immediate Past President made the clear argument for state education and against privatisation despite being ‘harangued’ by one of the fat cats. Passers by were clearly entertained by this spectacle and interested in the message.
Earlier there had been a joint ATL, NASUWT and NUT picket at the school in Wembley which was addressed among others by the NASUWT National President Geoff Branner. He praised staff for their support, commitment and resolve. This was Copland staff’s eight strike in total, six against being forced to become an academy and two against the proposed compulsory redundancies.